Betterton, Massey Post Offices on Chopping Block

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It was news hot off the presses last night and it wasn’t good. Before their Tuesday meeting the commissioners received word that the Betterton and Massey post offices are on a list of post office locations slated for possible closure.

The U.S. Postal Service is reviewing more than 3,700 post offices nationwide, about 12 percent, to determine which ones stay and which ones go. In Maryland 42 offices are on the chopping block, with eight locations in Baltimore and one in Annapolis.

Post offices that made the list are what the Postal Service calls “low activity,” meaning there is little foot traffic, average sales are less than $50 a day, and there is only about two hours of actual work a day.

To fill the void left by closing office locations the Postal Service is introducing a new concept it’s dubbed the “Village Post Office.” These new locations would be housed in local businesses, such as pharmacies, grocery stores, and convenience stores, and would offer postal products and services such as stamps and flat-rate packaging.

“By working with third-party retailers we’re creating easier, more convenient access to our products and services when and where our customers want them. The Village Post Office will offer another way for us to meet our customers’ needs,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in a statement. “The Postal Service of the future will be smaller, leaner and more competitive and it will continue to drive commerce, serve communities and deliver value.”

There was no word from the Postal Service what it would do in a situation with a town like Betterton, where there is no pharmacy, grocery, or convenience store. If the Betterton location should close the nearest post office is in Worton or Chestertown. The Still Pond post office was closed in September after a fire and there are currently no plans to re-open it.

This newest list of possible closures is the Postal Service’s most recent plan to try to re-coup more than $8.5 billion in net loses. With more and more people turning to the internet to communicate the Postal Service, which makes most of its money selling stamps and other postage, has seen its mail volume fall.

In other cost saving measures the Postal Service has cut more than 100,000 jobs over four years; has stopped some contributions to the Federal Employees Retirement System; and is reviewing its bonus and discretionary pay policy for executives and senior management. To help with the budget gap members of the American Postal Workers Union have agreed to wage freezes, higher health care costs and other contract concessions.

A complete list of offices up for closure can be found online at http://about.usps.com/news/electronic-press-kits/expandedaccess/statelist.html

Letters to Editor

  1. Catty One says:

    That’s going to be a bitter pill for Betterton to swallow. Esp. since Still Pond is apparently never going to re-open.
    Sure, they can argue all they want about the slow volume in Betteron. But it IS a municipality, no matter how tiny.
    Guess that doesn’t mean anything to the bean counters.
    As for their new business concept……..smaller, leaner, more competitive….
    Yippeeee
    locations in stores selling stamps and flat-rate packaging.
    Er, shouldn’t somebody tell General Donahoe that they are already here…..
    They’re called Mailboxes Etc. a/k/a The UPS Store.

  2. Gren Whitman says:

    The postal service is a basic service to citizens that the national government should provide no matter the cost and no matter the loss, with charges to patrons no more than what’s reasonable. Do local public water and wastewater systems operate at a profit? Our public schools? The police? Etc. The post office is just as much needed and just as much a public service, and should not be required nor expected to “show a profit.”
    Washington should decide whether or not the postal service should continue. Obviously, given Federal Express and UPS as examples, the private, profit-making sector can move mail. Most of the U.S. Postal Service’s business seems to come from junk and bulk mail services.

  3. Keith Thompson says:

    According to the story “…“By working with third-party retailers we’re creating easier, more convenient access to our products and services when and where our customers want them. The Village Post Office will offer another way for us to meet our customers’ needs,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in a statement. “The Postal Service of the future will be smaller, leaner and more competitive and it will continue to drive commerce, serve communities and deliver value.”
    There was no word from the Postal Service what it would do in a situation with a town like Betterton, where there is no pharmacy, grocery, or convenience store.”

    Sounds like an economic opportunity now exists in Betterton.

  4. Carla Massoni says:

    Just a thought – whenever the USPS raises the price of a stamp – there is a hue and cry throughout the land as citizens weigh in with concern for increased rates. I wonder if we will be invited into the board rooms of UPS and Fedex when they decide to raise prices.

  5. Paul Harvey says:

    When the Marzella’s purchased the old Betterton Fire House in early 2001, the post office was asked if they would be interested in renting part of the building and moving out of the old trailer on 3rd Ave ( which was to be temporary for 2 years, 20 years ago. This was a no go. This building has room for a postal retail operation as suggested by the Post Office Dept., if the owners are interested. If the citizens of Betterton and surrounding areas interested stop by and make your opinion known. The building address is 3 Howell Point Road

  6. Catty One says:

    “sounds like an economic opportunity now exists in Betterton”
    For what? Put on your reading glasses.
    The general is saying they are closing the ones with low volume. Not high overhead.
    Which means they are not going to close down in one part of town and re-open up the street.
    Their goofy “superstores” going into pharmacies & convenience stores will be miles away. If they even ever get off the drawing boards.
    Maybe we’re not getting the whole story here.
    Could be……
    Real reason is the people in the condos kept complaining about excessive noise coming from the post office on weekends…..lemme ponder that a bit.
    (That’s sarcasm, Keith. No need to start up a commentary.
    Unless you can add a catty remark of your own, of course)

  7. James Herron says:

    Start early if you are going to fight this. I live in Still Pond. I was shocked at the amount of double talk and lack of communication from the USPS on our post office issue. Graham Ero offered the USPS double the space at the same rent. The USPS side stepped that offer. They made the argument that each mail carrier is a “full service post office on wheels,” You can make arrangements with your mail carrier to receive any postal services such as certified mail and mailing packages. All you have to do is make arrangements to meet the mail carrier and then wait for them at your address. Isn’t that convenient?????? They said they considered that comparable service to our old Post Office. I consider that an insult to the level of service and care that Joyce Manley gave to us in Still Pond. That’s how the postal service works and thinks at the higher levels of the administration. Best of luck and let me know if I can help.

    P.S. How can any business offer to take the same letter from Betterton to Chestertown or Los Angeles for the same fee as one stamp? That seems to show a flawed business plan.

  8. Kate O'donnell says:

    Welcome to Still Pond’s world! Every conceivable effort was made to save our p.o., petitions, post card campaign, public and private meetings, email campaign to encourage disputing our p.o.’s closure, including endless contacts to Mikulski, Cardin, Kratovil, Pipkin, Jay Jacobs and our county commissioners. Personal letters and multiple phone calls. We heard about the “Rolling Post Office” where you “meet the carrier out by your streetside mailbox and buy your stamps and money orders. Boy that won’t work for most of us! I refuse to get a streetside box which the snow plow will knock over into the ditch and vandals will swing a bat at. The post office in Betterton is pathetic–lousy traffic pattern, potholes with standing water, crowded and no handicap access ramp. If you want a better option than the “Village” post office in a nonexistent pharmacy or convenience store in Betterton, ditto Massey, you might consider Kennedyville where I’ve switched to and I even got my same P.O. Box #. Massey folks will be sent to Millington, no doubt. Kennedyville doesn’t lock up at lunch time, unlike Worton which doesn’t have a drop down window. Months ago, the idea came to me that Still Pond would be an ideal location for a central p.o. to serve Betterton and Kennedyville, geographically speaking, if it were built NEW from the ground up. Worton is too close to Chestertown, so maybe it should close? Support the preservation effort in Still Pond. Go to http://www.stillpondmd.com and learn how. Communities need to keep their character, even if the lose their p.o.

  9. Kate O'donnell says:

    Please correct the previous submission to say “The post office in WORTON, not Betterton, is pathetic, etc.” The Betterton Post Office has good parking, though maybe not enough, and a handicap ramp. I stand by what I said about Worton in all aspects.

  10. Gren, the bean counters made the USPS self supporting back about 1970. They have TV commercials about how your tax dollars don’t support the post office. The problem, as ever, is bad management.

    Closing the Still Pond Post Office, they said, will save $35,000 a year. (They refused to provide any meaningful comparisons or budget and expense information for other nearby post offices; it’s “confidential.”)

    You don’t lose an $8.5 billion deficit in $35,000 bites.

    The fact of the matter is the law says that economics cannot be the sole factor in determining what POs to close. The 1970s ear law recognized that rural post offices were and are central to some small towns and villages. However, the nice folks at the USPS have redefined their terms so other concepts stand in the stead of economics.

    It sounds as if the USPS expects Butch Clark to cover hundreds of new mailboxes along the roads in the northwest county, while also serving as the “rolling post office.” Good luck with that. The “savings” will quickly diminish when they have to add a second route. Not just a rural delivery person, but the “rolling post office.”

  11. Back to the Future says:

    @ Craig – it was President Nixon, not the bean counters that created the Postal Service, from the old Cabinet Level Post Office Department after the strike of 1970. Do a little research on that, find out how poorly the government treated post office employees.

    Part of the problem is bad management, but a larger part is dealing with multiple layers of be bureaucracy to get anything done – Congress, Postal Board of Governors, Postal Rate Commission, along with the mandates each brings to the table. The Postal Service can’t act like a business because it can never do anything unilaterally.

    The Postal Service is mandated to operate like a business, but only to break even, not make a profit. During years when there was excess funds these were returned to the government. Not invested, not given to shareholders, but simply put in the government coffers. Also the Postal Service, since it does generate revenue, unlike the government which only taxes, has prepaid for its retiree’s benefits, and lo and behold – an overpayment of $50 to $70 Billion to the retirement system (depending on who’s estimate you believe.) Now the Postal Service is trying to get some of that back.

    Citing the 1970 law is a two edged sword. Is every law written 41 years ago still applicable today? Of course not. In 1970 some carriers delivered twice a day, using their own cars. Gas was about 36 cents a gallon. The median income was less than $10 thousand. Stamps were 6 cents. There was no internet, no cell phones, and it was a less mobile society. The milk man still came, in some places the ice man did too. Times have changed and so has everything else.

    Today with electronic and instant communication driving mail volumes down, the Postal Service is having to make choices that are not popular, but are ones that a business would make without a second thought. Having multiple post offices within a few miles of each other is not good business. And the Postal Service has to a act like a business.

    As far losing $8.5 billion in $35,000 bites – that’s like saying a $60 billion business can’t be run on the basis of a 44 cent stamp. In reality, without the mandated retirement pre-payments the Postal Service would be close to breaking even the last few years, not on the brink of insolvency.

  12. observer says:

    James Herron said, “How can any business offer to take the same letter from Betterton to Chestertown or Los Angeles for the same fee as one stamp? That seems to show a flawed business plan.”

    Exactly correct. It is an unimaginable business model, but it carries forward from the old Post Office Dept. days and too many people think in terms of “We do it this way, because this is how it’s always been done”. Yep, do the same things over and over and achieve the same results. The postage stamp pricing issue is an obvious problem, because the flat rate completely ignores the cost of providing the service. I have not mailed a package in years, but they used to weigh it and look at the destination to determine the cost of mailing. More distant destinations had a higher cost. But letters and such do not. Obviously, bureaucrats — not business managers — are still in charge.

  13. Steve Payne says:

    Butch is a friend of mine so I asked him about this. He said that there are 3 routes in Worton. One is an auxiliary route that currently serves many functions as needed. They already serve parts of Betterton and Stillpond. When this is complete he believes that the aux. route will become more like a regular route. He also felt like even though it will be more volume it could be handled in Worton.

  14. Paul Johnston says:

    Mr. O’Donnell cites bad management as the reason for Postal Service financial troubles. Is it good management to operate a business that is losing money? How many businesses would you operate losing 35K a year? The owners of the general store chose not to reopen. Just think of all the revenue they lost. Maybe the preservation committee will open the store themselves and run it at a loss since that is apparently good business in Still Pond.

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